When I had my first child, my priority was to keep all my friends and family close, connected, and happy. I wanted to share the enjoyment of being a parent and my precious baby with everyone.
This became increasingly more difficult with the birth and adoption of my other two children. My middle child has many diagnoses and is a medically complex child. But it was her mental illness that made things very challenging. There was no way for me to keep everyone happy.
Until she was 7 years old, she had severe and multiple violent outbursts every day. These would increase tenfold if she was overstimulated.
Family and friends began to question why she acted this way. Was it our parenting, something we were doing wrong?
When we had to leave a social function due to her behaviors, people would get angry with us. When she had a public outburst and the friends or family were there to see it, we would not hear from them for a while. When my other children had birthday parties and she stayed at home with a sister because it was way too overstimulating for her to be there, people thought we were awful parents.
These reactions became too much for me. Although this did not happen with everyone, I quickly learned that I needed to find other parents or parent groups who had children like ours. Those were the only people who truly got it.
We, as a family, decided we needed to surround ourselves with only people who could support and embrace us. We needed support for just that, and not from those who added stress, worry, and bad feelings. We get enough of that from our daily challenges of raising a child with complex medical needs.
Now we have a support community who can help us when we need it and support us in caring for our child in the best way we know how.
Connecting with other parents of children with disabilities and support groups is so important. Find out more.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we asked parents of children with disabilities and special health care needs to share their tips and stories about caring for their children during difficult times.